ACWA to Release Policy Framework Designed to Improve Resiliency and Management of Headwaters


ACWA Outreach Advisory
March 18, 2015

ACWA to Release Policy Framework Designed to Improve Resiliency and Management of Headwaters

March 19 Release Coordinated with Similar Headwaters Efforts

After more than two years of work by ACWA members and key stakeholders throughout the state, ACWA will release a new policy framework on March 19 that makes specific recommendations designed to improve the resiliency of water resources through effective headwaters management. The framework, “Improving the Resiliency of California’s Headwaters,” also emphasizes improved coordination among state, federal and local water managers as well as between upstream and downstream water users.

“This drought makes it clear that we need to look at each and every component of our water management system, from the Sierra forests and watersheds that feed our rivers and streams to the water storage and delivery infrastructure we rely on to serve cities, farms and businesses,” said ACWA Executive Director Timothy Quinn. “At a time when we can’t take a single drop for granted, it’s critical that we engage partners from one end of the state to the other to improve the resilience of our headwaters areas for the benefit of people and the environment today and into the future.”

Developed by ACWA’s Headwaters Framework Working Group, the document details the role that headwaters play in California’s water management system, outlines the benefits of healthy headwaters, identifies current challenges and provides a brief history of headwaters management. The framework makes nearly 30 specific recommendations in the areas of improved planning, coordination and implementation, managing headwaters resources, research and financing headwaters improvements.

“The release of ACWA’s framework document caps more than two years of work by ACWA members and key partners. In crafting this document, ACWA engaged members from every region in the state – from Sierra regions above the rim dams to the Central Valley and coastal areas – and we all share the recognition that more effective headwaters management could provide multiple benefits to water users statewide,” said ACWA President John Coleman.

“As a water leader from the southern part of the state, I can attest that water users in every part of the state are affected by the health of our headwaters. We need to do everything we can to work together to advance strategies that will protect headwaters and in turn the water we all depend on,” said Irvine Ranch Water District Board Member Steve La Mar, who also serves on the ACWA Board of Directors and was vice chair of the Headwaters Working Group.

Coordinated Efforts and Media Briefing Call

ACWA has partnered with The Nature Conservancy and the Sierra Nevada Conservancy to raise the visibility of headwaters challenges and the potential benefits of more coordinated management. ACWA will host a media briefing call at 10 a.m. Thursday with The Nature Conservancy and the Sierra Nevada Conservancy to outline current challenges and the need for landscape-scale research and other activities that can ultimately lead to more resilient headwaters areas. Each organization will highlight an individual report or effort.

The Nature Conservancy’s new report is the first ever assessment to estimate the link between ecological forest management, water quantity, and potential economic benefits for water agencies and utilities in the northern Sierra Nevada. The report is available at

The Sierra Nevada Conservancy’s Watershed Improvement Program is a coordinated program to restore the health of California’s primary watershed through increased investment and needed policy changes. The program also focuses on large scale restoration designed to address a variety of ecosystem health issues in the Sierra Nevada. More information is available on the program’s website at

Plenary Session at Spring Conference

In addition to these efforts, the rollout also will include a plenary session at ACWA’s Spring Conference & Exhibition in Sacramento May 5-8. This session will be an opportunity for ACWA members to discuss the framework and its recommendations in depth. More information will be available on ACWA’s website when Spring Conference materials are posted.


The framework document and a fact sheet will be available after March 19 on ACWA’s website at

If you have questions about “Improving the Resiliency of California’s Headwaters,” please contact ACWA Special Projects Manager Dave Bolland at (916) 441-4545 or

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